There are few activities more fun than paddling in a canoe, whether on a river or on a lake or perhaps even out in the open water. However, you still need to use some common sense and take some steps to make sure you avoid getting into trouble while out there. Canoes are generally safe, and canoeing is, in fact, one of the safest outdoor activities that you can do. Unfortunately, many people have died from mishaps while canoeing so it is important to use caution.
One reason people have accidents and become injured while canoeing is that they go to a location that is too challenging for their skillset and they often do not have a flotation device. The number one rule you should always obey is: Wear a life jacket!
Canoes often capsize, and you are highly likely to end up in the water at some stage. A life jacket may be a legal requirement depending on the country you are in. If you are far from shore and you are not able to hold onto the canoe for a given reason, the lifejacket can at least keep you afloat until help arrives.
Take canoe lessons!
If you have not canoed before, you would be wise to join a club to learn the techniques and what you need to do should you find yourself in trouble. The club will also know the best and safest places to do your hobby. Rivers and lakes can be deceptively deep and remember that the water’s surface may seem calm, but many people drown because they do not realize that there are strong currents below. A beginner can easily run into trouble by canoeing in a region with strong currents or deep water. This is where knowledge is important; you may need to rely on the expertise of other canoeists to select the appropriate place to go.
Never canoe by yourself!
Canoeing with a group of people, preferably three or more, means that someone will be able to help if you get into trouble. It also means that there will be a person who can summon help for you. If you are injured, you will struggle by yourself. By the same token, you will be there to assist any of the other participants should they have a problem.
Never stand up in the canoe!
With the exception of getting into or out of the canoe, never stand up in your canoe. It is a good idea to have somebody with you who can help to steady it. You are very likely to tip over and end up in water if you leave the seated position, so try to avoid it at all costs.
Finally, don’t panic!
If you end up falling out of the canoe for whatever reason, it is important that you stay calm. Try to hold onto the canoe but if you are in a river, try to stay upstream so that it won’t pin you down.